The Uninvited

The Uninvited
BYOG (Bring Your Own Ghost)
Updated: 01-31-2009

Apparently, even the public took the film's title literally and decided not to show for this supernatural shindig: Since the studio didn't screen The Uninvited for the press, I had to pony up $11.75 to see for myself why not. It was on opening day at the usually busy, bustling Chinese Theater in Hollywood, so I got there early, expecting a crowd of PG-13 thrill-seekers. Well, it was just me, my friend, and about four other people — who probably thought they were seeing a revival of the old 1944 Ray Milland chiller of the same name. Personally, I wish it had been…


That's not to say The Uninvited (a heavily Americanized remake of the Korean ghostie-girl thriller, A Tale of Two Sisters) is bad. Worse, it's bland. A reasonably competent, if ham-fistedly directed, story about (you got it) two sisters, the story unfolds quickly as teenager Anna (Emily Browning) is driven home from a stint in an insane asylum by her successful author dad, Steven (David Strathairn). As they talk in the car, we learn that the stay away was induced by the sickness and subsequent death of Anna's mother, and that the sexy younger nurse who was caring for the Mrs. is likely to become the new Mrs.


As soon as Anna returns to the family's seaside mansion, her elder sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) greets her and immediately dispenses the 4-1-1 on all that's been going on since Mom died and racy Rachel (Elizabeth Banks) moved into the main house and master bedroom. The girls decide the blonde's ambition is far more innocent, and even go so far as to find ways to implicate her in murder. Plodding… um, I mean plotting against her, they use all their means to convince their dad, the police, and even Anna's ex-boyfriend that Rachel is evil. But is she, really? And what does Mom's ghost have to say all about it, aside from popping up in bone-twisting prosthetics every once in awhile?


Even if you have not seen the Korean original, any halfway astute viewer will see the "twist" coming within the first five minutes of The Uninvited. Then you're stuck just sitting there, waiting to see how they decide to reveal it. Turns out, it's hardly worth the time (or the $11.75, for that matter).


To give credit where credit is due, the acting and casting is spot-on, and the cinematography and production design are lovely. There's a calm, creepy atmospheric vibe maintained (the filmmakers have freely admitted they used What Lies Beneath as major inspiration — and, one of the producers worked on that film with Robert Zemeckis) and it's nice to look at. Just nice, though. It never really manages to illicit much beyond adequacy and serviceability.


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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson

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